Wednesday, 19 January 2011

CD Review: Bananas, by Deep Purple (2003)

An incredible 35 years after their first release, Deep Purple return with Bananas, their 17th studio album.  Like a seaside rock exposed to the continuous waves, Deep Purple do not pretend to have an edge anymore; but they are well-rounded, smooth, and they do occasionally glisten in the sunlight.

Ian Gillan's vocals are now all about control and maturity, while Steve Morse on guitar and Don Airey on keyboards are functional but stay well clear of trying to emulate the wizardry of Blackmore and Lord.  The pace is generally relaxed and befitting the band's senior status. But some of the songwriting remains strong, and four tracks on Bananas prove that talent can survive the test of time.

House Of Pain opens the CD with a cow bell just to make the point the Purple are still young at heart, and proceeds to celebrate returning to what hurts, a sure metaphor for staring down the risks of releasing yet another album. Razzle Dazzle is proof, if any was needed, that Deep Purple can still have fun. They now likely need Viagra, but that does not prevent them from producing high energy dance-metal, banging the drum looking for the fine line between an orgy of destruction and a wonderful time. Walk On is drenched in the sorrow of a doomed relationship, a most effective and emotion-filled "it's time to move on" telegram. Doing It Tonight introduces a simple but infectiously bouncy groove perfectly suited to the lyrics, instantly creating a dark calypso club vibe where all revelers have one thing - and the same thing - on their mind.

These four tracks may not stand shoulder to shoulder with Purple's best ever work, but they do hold their own as enjoyable, well-structured and thoughtful music.

The remaining tracks on Bananas are less interesting and generally fade into the background, but credit to the band for maintaining a steady level of quality: there are no fillers or throwaway tracks.

It's a minor irritant, but an irritant all the same: the track listing on the CD cover bears no relationship to the track sequence on the CD itself, a sign of either needless last minute panic or a lack of quality control.

Some bands burn-out, while others fade away.  Bananas captures Deep Purple fading away, but with dignity intact.


Steve Morse - Guitars
Ian Gillan - Vocals
Roger Glover - Bass
Don Airey - Keyboards
Ian Paice - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. House Of Pain - 8
2. Sun Goes Down - 7
3. Haunted - 7
4. Razzle Dazzle - 8
5. Silver Tongue - 7
6. Walk On - 9
7. Picture Of Innocence - 7
8. I Got Your Number - 7
9. Never A Word - 7
10. Bananas - 7
11. Doing It Tonight - 9
12. Contact Lost - n/a (short instrumental)

Average: 7.55

Produced and Engineered by Michael Bradford.
Mastered by Andy Vandette.

All Ace Black Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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